Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion

A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy ColbertWhen Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipol...

Title:Little & Lion
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316349003
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:336 pages

Little & Lion Reviews

  • Kelly
    Jan 02, 2017

    An incredible story about mental illness and the tolls it can take on a family -- even one that's close and open with one another. Colbert renders Lion(el) through both his highs and his lows of bipolar, and she creates a likable-but-flawed character in his sister Suzette (Little). Little is a bisexual Jewish black girl, struggling with how much of herself to show in her boarding school in Massachusetts, but this summer back in California has taught her the importance of being true to herself in

    An incredible story about mental illness and the tolls it can take on a family -- even one that's close and open with one another. Colbert renders Lion(el) through both his highs and his lows of bipolar, and she creates a likable-but-flawed character in his sister Suzette (Little). Little is a bisexual Jewish black girl, struggling with how much of herself to show in her boarding school in Massachusetts, but this summer back in California has taught her the importance of being true to herself in every capacity and owning it, rather than hiding it.

    The parents in this book, who are the reason Little and Lion and (step) brother and sister, are so fantastic. They want to protect their kids, but they're also willing to let their kids make mistakes and grow from them.

    Colbert explores so many variations of sexuality in this book: there's Suzette and her coming to terms with being bisexual (and finding herself in a relationship with a half-Korean boy who is a long-time family friend while also crushing on a girl she meets at her best friend's party) and Rafaela, the girl who Suzette crushes on and becomes the girlfriend of her brother, identifies openly as pansexual. The scene where she brings this up is perfectly smart and real while also a bit awkward and explain-y, in the way that teenagers coming into their own in these ways just are. Rafaela is a fascinating character through-and-through, in the way that is sort of in the vein of One Of Those Girls You Are Just Unable Not To Be Fascinated By, but her honesty and her past

    make it clear that even those you find to be perfect or ideal have their own pasts to reckon with. Rafaela is also a hell of a feminist killjoy in the best possible ways. Her rants about men and the way that they're trained from a young age that teasing girls or touching them is okay made me laugh because it was so spot on.

    There is an incredibly hard scene

    Likewise, there's an excellent sex scene with Suze's current relationship, as well as flashbacks to a previous one that haunts her throughout the story. Consent is obvious, as is discussion of birth control -- a thing a lot of readers demand, and it is sewn in seamlessly here.

    The real meat of the story, though, is Lion's mental health. Colbert's story highlights the struggles that one individual's mental health can have on a whole family, but more, it highlights the complexities and arguments that exist for and against medication. It does so with respect to both sides, and offers up a lot of food for thought on how one lives with, rather than against, one's mental well-being. The depiction of bipolar disorder is so, so good; it will be obvious to savvy readers the subtler ways it's woven into Lion's character, but for readers who might not be as familiar, the strings come together in the end. This book ALSO highlights physical health and well-being, through Emil's chronic illness and how it has changed his life.

    But perhaps the thing I loved most about this book is a little thing I had to keep track of for myself: Lion is a huge reader, and his story is peppered with book references. This is the list I kept from start to finish, in part because I love reading lists hidden within books:

    - The New Yorker Magazine (see the cover!)

    - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

    - Shel Silverstein

    - Infinite Jest

    - Sula

    - The Shining

    - Gwendolyn Brooks

    - Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, as illustrated by Salvador Dali.

    Put this book on your to-be-read list if you love contemporary realism, strong characters, books that "get it right" about mental illness, and characters willing to sift through their good and their bad and come to peace with who it is they are. It's so, so good.

  • Ashley Blake
    May 29, 2017

    Damn, this was everything I wanted it to be. Messy, beautiful, completely satisfying.

  • Mic
    Oct 27, 2016

    Well, Nova Ren Suma and Courtney Summers would not stop talking about this book at their event, so now I need to read it.

  • Nic Stone
    Dec 12, 2016

    I had no idea I needed this book so badly. For one, it features a black Jewish girl (she and her mother converted when she was 11). For another, it gives a wonderful example of how "family" isn't defined by blood or even by marriage, but by love and acceptance and a sense of belonging. For a third, it offered a really seating look into the idea of loyalty and the moral dilemma major secrets can sometimes present--especially if by keeping a secret, someone could wind up hurt.

    I loved it so much!

  • Shauna (b00kstorebabe)
    Apr 05, 2017

    Y'all, you need this book.

  • Elise (The Bookish Actress)
    Jan 24, 2017

    2.5 stars. This was one of those books that is not bad at all, but isn't incredible either. I'm not sure how to articulate exactly how I felt about this book, but let's try.

    —+ The complex, multifaceted sibling relationship is a plus. Suzette and Lionel have their disputes, but it's clear they really love each other. I liked that they were a stepbrother and stepsister, because sibling-ish relationships between stepsiblings are

    in literature and

    in real life. (Signed, a gi

    2.5 stars. This was one of those books that is not bad at all, but isn't incredible either. I'm not sure how to articulate exactly how I felt about this book, but let's try.

    —+ The complex, multifaceted sibling relationship is a plus. Suzette and Lionel have their disputes, but it's clear they really love each other. I liked that they were a stepbrother and stepsister, because sibling-ish relationships between stepsiblings are

    in literature and

    in real life. (Signed, a girl with a stepbrother who she loves like a brother.)

    —+ There's also diversity! This is a very diverse book, with a bi and nonwhite main character.

    , which is a lot rarer than I'd like it to be. Another star for that!

    —+ In general, this story

    It's not amusing or enjoyable. But while it's intense, I always felt one step removed from the characters. I didn't hate any of them but I didn't connect with any of them.

    —+ Maybe this is because

    The brother/sister relationship is good, but it isn't developed

    enough to inspire deep feeling. Neither of the relationships within the love triangle are developed that deeply, period. The love triangle just didn't work in general. I felt pretty torn about who I wanted Suz to end up with, but I didn't find myself caring much.

    —+ While we're at it,

    I have quite literally read FOUR books with major bi characters where this happened over the course of the year 2017. IT IS MARCH 15TH. IT HAS BEEN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS. (For those curious, the other three books are Noteworthy, which had great rep, It's Not Like It's A Secret, which had a gross cheating storyline, and Ellen Hopkins' new book, which had absolutely terrible rep in every way.) This book gets a plus from me for not involving actual cheating in this love triangle; however, there's some action that comes close, and my point stands that this love triangle element has really gotten tiresome.

    —+ Please, someone change the the blurb. The blurb heavily implies a major f/f relationship, without mentioning any guys, and yet

    It's not bad for a bi girl to end up with a guy. We need more romances where that happens but the bi mc doesn't reject her sexuality. However,

    Not Brandy Colbert or the book's fault at all, but really, the marketing here is completely revolving around the wlw when the book doesn't really go there. This really didn't play into my dislike of the book, but be warned.

    Why not just market this as a story about a bi main character in a love triangle, rather than marketing it as a romance between two girls?

    —+ The story

    . There's a story about bisexuality here, and a story about identity, and a story about family, and a story about mental illness, and a story about racism. In Colbert's debut,

    , all the different stories tied together very well. But this book doesn't develop any of the stories quite enough for them to fit.

    feels like eight novels crammed into one book. To be clear, I'm not saying we can't have non-white, bisexual characters in fiction– I want more representation as good as the representation in this book. But

    I didn't hate this, but it wasn't a fave of mine. Colbert's first novel was more my speed.

    div17: biracial mc

  • Book Riot Community
    Mar 07, 2017

    Preorder this right now if you are itching for the following: a main character who is black, Jewish, bisexual and lives in an amazingly supportive blended family. Suzette — known as “Little” to her brother Lionel “Lion” — has come home from her boarding school out east after heading out there when her step-brother’s bipolar depression came to a head. It was a way for her to carve her own space and separate herself from his illness. When she spends the summer at home, though, she realizes just ho

    Preorder this right now if you are itching for the following: a main character who is black, Jewish, bisexual and lives in an amazingly supportive blended family. Suzette — known as “Little” to her brother Lionel “Lion” — has come home from her boarding school out east after heading out there when her step-brother’s bipolar depression came to a head. It was a way for her to carve her own space and separate herself from his illness. When she spends the summer at home, though, she realizes just how much she loves and misses spending time with him and misses being part of their LA community.

    Colbert’s story highlights the struggles that one individual’s mental health can have on a whole family, but more, it highlights the complexities and arguments that exist for and against medication. It does so with respect to both sides, and offers up a lot of food for thought on how one lives with, rather than against, one’s mental well-being. The depiction of bipolar disorder is so, so good; it will be obvious to savvy readers the subtler ways it’s woven into Lion’s character, but for readers who might not be as familiar, the strings come together in the end. This book ALSO highlights physical health and well-being, through Emil’s — one of Suzette’s potential romantic interests — chronic illness and how it has changed his life.

    But perhaps the thing I loved most about this book is a little thing: Lion is a huge reader, and his story is peppered with book references. If you look closely at the cover, you’ll even see an homage to one of his favorite reading materials, The New Yorker.

    A must-read and easily one of my favorite YA reads…and it will certainly be one of the best YA reads this year, guaranteed. A knock out.

    —Kelly Jensen

    from The Best Books We Read In January 2017:

  • Lola  Reviewer
    May 31, 2017

    LITTLE & LION is a diverse book. I always take the time to mention that, because I am proud to see more and more books being written with people of colour as main characters and LGBT themes.

    Suzette, also known as Little, is a beautiful black girl who is still trying to figure out her sexuality. Is she bisexual, pansexual, queer…? She’s especially trying to find an answer because there’s this beautiful half Black half Asian boy she thinks she may be falling for. But then there’s this girl she

    LITTLE & LION is a diverse book. I always take the time to mention that, because I am proud to see more and more books being written with people of colour as main characters and LGBT themes.

    Suzette, also known as Little, is a beautiful black girl who is still trying to figure out her sexuality. Is she bisexual, pansexual, queer…? She’s especially trying to find an answer because there’s this beautiful half Black half Asian boy she thinks she may be falling for. But then there’s this girl she’s working with that has her heart beating faster, too.

    However, this is a problem for Little, since her bipolar brother, Lion, who has recently decided to stop taking his medication, has a huge crush on the same girl Little likes. She’d rather tell Lion the truth, but she’s afraid this will ruin everything between them.

    I understand that in many cases lying is what seems like the preferable choice, because it allows us to protect the ones we love, but Little’s lying is cowardly. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her flaws, which made her all the more real, and I also loved her vulnerability. But I did not find her truthful. In my opinion, she lies more to protect herself than other people.

    The diversity is great, not only because there are people of colour, a boy struggling with mental illness and one lovely girl (who lies too often!) questioning her sexuality, but because the protagonists actually talk about what it means to be Black, bisexual and mentally ill. I learned more about bipolarity from this book than I did from the dozens of books with bipolar characters I have previously read combined. It’s emotional, instructive and deep.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your preferences, there is no defined plot. There are main events and less important events, but this is more about Suzette finding answers to her questions and rebuilding her relationship with her brother than Suzette going on an adventure or anything of the sort that would allow some action in the storyline. It’s slow, sadly, but the characters are worth getting to know and the themes are well explored.

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